Monday, August 26, 2013

Home Stretch: An “Insider’s” Perspective

This post is a guest post by Laura Grevas, Program Coordinator for the Minnesota Homeownership Center.


Before I began working at the Minnesota Homeownership Center, I knew as much about the home buying process as your average twenty-something.

In other words, I didn't know much.

I knew that affordable homeownership is the cornerstone of thriving neighborhoods. I didn't know just how much I didn't know about buying a home. That’s why homebuyer education is so important. Buying a home is likely the largest purchase any of us will make in our lifetimes, so it pays to be prepared and have at least enough information to advocate for your family’s best interest.

Because the Center oversees a network of agencies that provide Home Stretch (homebuyer education) Workshops across the state, new employees are asked to join a class to get a sense of our flagship program.
The folks at Community Neighborhood Housing Service – one of more than 30 Home Stretch providers– were kind enough to let me sit in on a portion of their Saturday class in St. Paul.

Our facilitator began the afternoon session by talking about real estate basics, before introducing a local Realtor who schooled us in how and why people buy – or want to buy- where they do. Realtors aren't ethically allowed to steer their clients away from or toward certain neighborhoods, which is something I didn't know. The workshop format allows plenty of time to ask questions, both of the facilitator and the guest speakers, experts in their field who volunteer their time to teach new homebuyers. My classmates (the ones who were actually, you know, buying a house) swapped stories about their experiences so far, and I think we all learned something new.

My favorite guest speaker was the professional home inspector. With more than 20 years of experience, this inspector had seen some pretty major problems in folks’ prospective dwellings. In addition to teaching us how to find a reliable inspector and make the most of the inspection process, he shared some little-known home safety tips.

The average age of homeownership in Minnesota is 29, so we’ll see if that happens for me. Either way, I’m glad I observed this class – it definitely provides lots of valuable information that could prevent headaches down the road! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Minnesota Foreclosure Activity Continues to Plummet

Sheriff’s Sales drop to less than 7,000 in the first half of 2013

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From the Minnesota Homeownership Center's most recent press release:  -- During the first half of 2013 the number of completed Sheriff’s Sales, the final step of the foreclosure process in Minnesota, has fallen to the lowest level since the beginning of the housing crisis.  Statewide, there were 6,795 foreclosures in the first two quarters of 2013. This number is 29 percent less than the same period of 2012, with a greater decline seen in the Twin Cities metro area (down 33 percent) than in Greater MN (down 23 percent).

The “2013 Semi-Annual Foreclosures in Minnesota” report was released Thursday by the Minnesota Homeownership Center using research provided by HousingLink and adds to other recent evidence showing that fewer Minnesota homeowners are struggling with mortgage payments than at any time since 2006. 

While more than 1,100 homes each month were lost to foreclosure in the first half of the year, this number pales in comparison to 2010, when Minnesota was experiencing the worst of the housing collapse.  During the first half of 2010, lenders were auctioning off more than 2,100 homes each month.

“Modest improvements in Minnesota’s economy and increasing home prices, combined with improvements in how banks and lenders deal with struggling homeowners are positively impacting the number of homes lost to foreclosure,” stated Ed Nelson, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Minnesota Homeownership Center. “However, while the most recent data is encouraging, we can’t lose sight of the fact homes are still being lost to foreclosure at rates that exceed twice those of historic levels.”

Homeowners that are struggling to make mortgage payments are encouraged to seek help from a certified foreclosure prevention specialist that is a member of the Homeownership Advisors Network as soon as possible.  Waiting limits a homeowner’s option.   To find a free local foreclosure specialist, click here, or call the Minnesota Homeownership Center at 866-462-6466.